Monday, January 23, 2012

They Sleep


He sleeps, finally . . it evades him most nights. He'll lie, wait, think, read, toss, turn then rise resolute that no sandman will touch his lids tonight.  She crashes, deep and blessed by the Sandman's touch. She feels him slide between the sheets, lie prone, straight, one foot massaging the upside of the other in unconscious and rhythmic bliss. Lips gently pursed the passage of air purrs through his Cupid's bow. Chest barely rising, sweet breath percolating through perfect nostrils, audible but soft. Unconscious, his elbow bent, as hand fingers through his hair, strands entwined in forefinger and thumb. A tiny forest of tendrils strangling knuckles.

She leans and rests his hand upon an unconscious torso. Her fingers entwined in his and strokes his face, neck and chest. She rests her arm across his belly and sinks into oblivion. He's stilled, silenced, unaware and free to dream.

She sleeps, face down, belly against crisp white sheets, one leg bared aside the bed. Lips parted and invaded by a mass of curls. She gurgles and snores, his arm across her back, smooths across her buttocks. He's roused and moves to gently push her sideways, change her position, lead her into quiet.  She gently sighs without wakefulness, inhales and repeats until she's silenced and sails in clouds of dreams.

Neither is aware of the other's night time interference. Both unconscious to the other's gentle persuasion. His hand quieting - her arm reaching.  Bodies locked, a perfect fit. Her curves to his indents. Her face buried in his fragrant hair. Legs tangled, linked, warm and secure.

She spoons. He rolls. She nestles into his armpit, taking in the ambrosia of his scent. He parts her hair from her face and smiles. She holds his hand, outlining each of his fingers with hers and wishes it was forever. Such sensuality, while the other slumbers. Time forgotten, no beginning or end just the here and now. Her  hand slides from navel down between his thighs. He feels but does not stir. She moves and glides skin against skin, her mouth exploring. He smiles as if rousing but in his unconscious state remains oblivious. She relinquishes, content to watch him drown in elusive sleep.

She stirs and coughs. His hands upon her back slides across her hips. She squirms barely aware. They roll with perfect synchronicity, but neither feels the contact. Warm, replete, united. Hands on skin, breath on necks all administered in the world between wakefulness and unconsciousness, in moments of suspended time.

They sleep.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Hell Rush Part 4 of 4

Continued from Part 3

In coming months, they accept their positions. She as a sorority sister in Sigma Mu, he as part of the wrestling team for frat house, Alpha Epsilon.   She endures the 'makeover', joins the cheerleaders and plies her craft.  She's for all intents and purposes 'one of them'. Interestingly, they never ask questions. Nothing about her background, her family, not even where she comes from. How can you have sorority with people so absorbed in themselves that they don't know the most basic things about each other? Her ability to question and listen has served her well as she identifies the most evil of the sorority sisters. And one in particular who's violation of her body would not go unpunished.

Seb immerses and rises to the fore. Locker room conversations about who will fuck who during the 'rush' which groupies are worthy, which are 'infected'. He's becoming a man's man, a bro without a ho but entrenched. Exploits in the ring bring accolades to his fraternity and he's elevated on shoulders, a prince among misogynists, a hero of the hour. A hero with a darkness in his heart.

***

"Death by mercury poisoning," the Coroner records her voice as she examines each once nubile body. Now grey and pale, their fingers and toes turning black from oxygen deprivation. "See here?" She draws her intern closer, lifting Cindy's now lacklustre hair, "Tiny incision at the base of the neck and into the cerebellum. Easily done with a diabetic needle. Toxicology has identified mercury. These guys weren't asphyxiated. They were killed via injection then bound, gagged and....well you've seen the pictures."

"Why go to the trouble of binding them and leaving them in the Wrestling arena?" Despite the TV depiction of public coroner's, they're examiners not detectives.

"Perhaps post mortem punishment? Send a message? Who knows?" The police will have to work that one out.

Ringwold's pacing the small room. A reverse mirror along one wall, where he stops and adjusts his collar before turning to the pretty brunette sitting pert and upright on a wooden chair, pulled close to the only small table in the room.

"Miss Morello? May I call you Corina?"

The petite blonde nods and smiles. Butter wouldn't melt in her mouth which makes her even more likely as the prime suspect. He's seen innocence on the face of murderers before and is paying close attention to this one. Although she doesn't seem the type.

"Now I know you've had your differences during Hell week with a number of your classmates. I know it was a while a go and you're all settled into your new sorority life but...there's been an incident. I'm just wondering how close you are to those girls?"

She's reassuring and genuine as she tells Ringwold about the support she receives, the friends she's made. How the original 'incident' was really just one girl out of control. How she's over it and hoping to be nominated as queen bee sooner rather than later. How she can't remember the details any more. "It was just a prank!"

He's not convinced. But his observations of her over the past week have her pegged as a true sister. Involved, academic, friendly. Yet she has motive and he knows it.

"These murders..." he pauses a little too long as if considering his words but he's checking her body language. It's relaxed, calm. Her hands clasped loosely on top of the table, her legs crossed and her gaze attentive. "These murders..are so long after the pledging at Kappa Mu I'm beginning to wonder whether they're even related. Either that or someone held one helluva grudge for a very long time. You have every reason to hold a grudge. These girls damn near drowned you. Violated you and now....now... you're the best of friends?"

She deflects his reasoning at every turn and he has little alternative but to let her go. She unfolds her hands and uncrosses her legs as if posturing to leave, "One more minute young lady...."

"Where were you on the night of the 22nd, about 9pm?"

Her response is clear, calm, "With Sebastian Nicholls.  We were at his parent's house for the Thanksgiving holidays. We only came back a couple of days ago. Why? Surely you don't think I'm capable of killing six people, let alone binding them up and lugging them across campus into the Wrestling ring? Look at me, I'm only 5'4 and 126 pounds dripping wet!"

Ringwold's gut knows she did it. The why is clear. The when dictated by science. The how? Now that's got his knickers in a knot.

She's right, her alibi checks out. She was out of town. He uneasily lets her leave.

***

Michael Nati is packing a night bag. It's not his habit to leave the underbelly of the city where he can remain anonymous, invisible. Nor is it his habit to work pro bono but, when the girl he loves, albeit unknown to her, wants a favour - he's honour bound to comply.  Her yearbook photo in his wallet is his good luck charm. Kissed with warmth after every cold kill. Only once had he had a conversation with her about his occupation. "I remove filth," he'd said, hoping to shroud his real purpose in vagary.

"What do you mean?" she'd asked, innocent as a lamb.

"Corina, I'm a hit man. I kill for money."

She'd laughed as if she'd met some deluded comic book hero, "Sure... you? Why Mikey you wouldn't hurt a fly."

He'd left the conversation at that. Her disbelief adding credence to his subterfuge but he'd planted a seed. Deep down she knew he was shady, she knew he was capable of dreadful things but she knew he owed her, cared for her and would never let her down.

Her phone call had been the first since she left and he was compelled to act.  He zips up the bag full of duct tape and syringes, thin rope and plastic wrap and discards the photograph. Nothing must link her to him, not now.

***

The memorial services take place over a week. Some joint funerals attended by each sorority and frat house. Some private but Sebastian and Corina attend all and look suitably morose. So does Ringwold but he's not watching the mourners. He knows these two are linked his gut feeling tells him that they did it but the trail's gone cold. Even the one link to a suspicious character from Corina's past came up with an alibi, not that he believed it but it checked out. For the first time Ringwold's not fazed. The things these kids and others had to put up with took him back to his own college days. The humiliation he'd endured being the main reason he'd left an academic future to join the force.

As the mourners leave the last memorial, Seb and Corina brush past the policeman and make eye contact. Ringwold tips his forehead with two fingers, "Good luck you two....case is closed." All Corina feels is the reassuring squeeze of Sebastian's hand in hers. It's over. It begins again.

***

Corina Morello sits in her dorm, fingering the keypad of her iPhone.  She doesn't raise her head from the message she's sending to Sebastian.

"Hi, I'm Nicola..."

"Don't speak...just put your stuff over there," Corina waves to the new girl without looking. She doesn't see the disappointment in the new pledge's eyes as she begins to unpack her belongings onto a small bed, within a nook beneath a cape cod ceiling. Nor does she empathise with a new recruit who simply doesn't want to be there.

Posted for The Tenth Daughter of Memory "Coed Naked Armageddon"

Hell Rush Part 3 of 4

Continued from Part 2

He's survived the pre-inauguration trials. Managed to crawl into the cafeteria, elephant walk for three days, shoe shine and down a yardarm of slush. He's served seniors alcohol and fast food. Licked ice cream from the floor. It's almost over, almost done and he's survived so far.

There are six of them facing initiation. Standing blindfolded in their boxer shorts. They have no idea how many others can see them, are watching them, or what the evening will bring but they're excited, nervous and thanks to new legislation and the constant berating of the Vice Chancellor, they're expecting little more than a night in a coffin, a faux paddling or being forced to drink some disgusting unction. It's titillating. He can smell the sweet stench of acceptance.

"Pledges, this is the final task. Fail, and you're out. Succeed and you're in."

Seb recognises Jake's voice.

"On all fours!" Jake barks, and the pledges comply among the giggles and chides of an increasingly noisy crowd.  There are women in the room, their shrill giggles joining in the throng. He feels hands upon his back and fingers along the waistband of his blue and white striped boxer shorts, then a foot upon his buttocks as he's pushed into the floor. It hurts but he still takes it on board as rough play 'almost done' he consoles himself. Face down in the dark his boxers are removed and his hands secured behind him with an electrical tie. He's still smiling, although a little embarrassed and pleased that he can't see his own nakedness. Then the sharp sting of something cold across his back. He scream, more out of surprise than pain but it does hurt.

"Shut the fuck up pledge!" He doesn't recognise this voice, and squirms as something is carved into his skin.  The cut not too deep and the pain tolerable, he assumes it a badge of honour. A little like the movies he's seen where paratroopers receive their wings upon a bare chest - pin piercing their skin and 'marking' them as a brother in arms for ever. He winces but deals.

The room grows quiet and he can hear the boy next to him sniffing and clearing his throat, trying to mask tears. Then the slow hum of a chant. He can't tell what they're saying, it sounds like Greek or Latin and builds to a crescendo before he feels the hard slam of a baseball bat across his buttocks.  It knocks the air from his lungs and a gag is placed across his mouth; tied too firmly at the back of his head. Something with a sphere wrapped within it, keeping his mouth agape and blocked. The beating continues. He can hear the sniffles and moans of the other boys being slowly drowned out by the increasing chanting of the rabble inflicting the wounds. Eventually, he feels the warm trickle of blood from the piercings on his upper back, the intrusion of something slim and prosthetic in his anus but being held firm to the floor by strong arms muffles his agonising protestations. Then the pain in his kidneys as he receives another last blow, makes him urinate involuntarily before he blacks out.

***

Corina's heard the usual pledging of new cheerleaders is a fabulous affair. Being woken early and taken to breakfast. Announcing the pledge and hugging her sorority sisters. She's ready, very ready. The preamble to her initiation, tame. Having to dress alike, paint toes and fingernails, be a slave for a day. All doable and whilst a little humiliating, she's in good company as other hopefuls comply with the wishes of their future sorority sisters. All a bit of a lark really and taken in good faith.

Then pledge day arrives. Oh, she's woken for breakfast alright. Four women, she can't see their faces as a rough fabric bag is pulled over her head and taped firmly around her neck.  Gaffer tape is pulled across her mouth and her protestations ignored by the grappling hands who strip her naked. Her arms, torso and legs are bound so tight the pain shoots along her inside leg as she's transferred into a chair and hoisted down the stairs amid giggles that aren't her own. She's terrified but not alone.

Each bound student is positioned at the pool's edge. Each naked girl, indelibly marked on every blemish. Nipples circled with felt pen and comments on their size, appearance and firmness written in comic balloons on their skin.  Something vibrating and uncomfortable between their legs, forced too hard. The violation makes each squirm and Corina, scream a silent scream. The perpetrator's zealotry hurting her vagina with painful thrusts of what feels like the end of a wooden spoon. Her sobs muted by the tape and the laughter and encouragement of existing sorority members.

The water's cold as she, chair and bindings are plunged into the swimming pool. She thinks it's a swimming pool. The smell of chlorine suffocating. She doesn't realise it's the shallow end and her head will clear the surface. Panic sets in as she flails and tries to release herself. She's never been comfortable in the water. She's a city girl and never learned to swim. The flood of water through her nostrils finding no escape through her bound mouth. Eyes wide and seeing nothing, lungs bursting and burning for lack of air. She's about to die, she knows it, until lugged out of the now turbulent wash and her hood removed in time for her to throw up on the pool pavers. Everyone's gone. She's left, hearing nothing bu fading giggles. Still bound and bleeding. Cold and wet, until found by the evening swim squad and loaded into an ambulance.

***

A bloated bureaucrat sits behind the mahogany desk on an equally bloated Chesterfield leather chair. Leaning back he wears his arrogance like an old shoe. Inside he's concerned. News of this could ruin his fundraising efforts. He listens to her complaint, her regalement of torture and humiliation as she slides a hospital bill across his desk.

"I was hospitalised for three days! Three days! Sexually assaulted and left for dead and you want me to forget about it?"

"This need go no further." He leans into her, "It could be worse Corina. If they found out you've come here or reported this to the police...it could be much worse."

The Vice Chancellor's office is not impressed by the treatment of the two freshmen but both houses are reputable. Their members, sons and daughters of influential families and philanthropic benefactors to the university.

"But sir..." Corina's cut off immediately

"I have made a formal note of your complaints and your medical bills will be covered by the University. However, I want to hear no more of this. I'll make an announcement reiterating that this behaviour is unacceptable but I'm sure you understand...."

Corina nods, "Yes. I understand. Absolutely."   Oh she understands. She understands that one voice among many isn't going to change a thing. She understands that she's been part of a pledge gone wrong. She can feel the eyes burning into her and the messages warning her to keep quite are persistent and clear.

She makes a call.

"Sebastian...Seb..."

Corina whispers through the library bookcase at her friend. "What happened?"

"I can't talk about it," she knows he's faced similar abuse. She saw him wince the day after as he sat next to her in the lecture theatre. She noticed the droplets of blood oozing through the back of his shirt.

"Meet me outside Theatre 2, tonight.  11pm..."

He nods at her proposal and puts his head back into his book.

Blanketed by clandestine darkness, Corina outlines her plan. "We have to be seen together, often and publicly, you OK with that." He is, his crush on Cindy waning as he gets to know Corina better.

"Well that's not gonna be hard!"

"I'm serious Seb, we can't be seen to be pushing the envelope on this one. We have to fit in, become popular. It'll take some schmoozing but we can do it. From now on, you and I are also tight. Really tight. We stick like glue. We lunch together, we holiday together...you're gonna take me home for Thanksgiving. Got it?"

Seb nods. The adrenalin coursing through his veins. Is he scared or pumped...either way he will comply.

Hell Rush (Part 2 of 4)

Continued from Part 1

It's the first day of college for the Freshmen. Excitement, trepidation. Car doors slamming. Distressed mother's crying and embracing their first years as if it was their first year at primary school.

'Mom, quit!" Sebastian Nicholls is embarrassed by his mother's coddling, "It's just college, I'll be home at spring break,"

His portly mother wipes her eyes and strokes his face, "You be careful now...here..." as she snatches the bag from his hand, "I'll help you settle in."

There's no stopping her fussing and bustling down the hallway into his dorm. There's no stopping her sliding a finger along the bookshelf above the only remaining bed in the four bed room and inspecting the residual dust on her forefinger. There's no stopping her introducing herself to his dorm mates long before he even knows their names or what they're studying. She persists. Hugs him. Begs him to be careful, to study hard and to call every day before bustling outward into the corridor and dissolving all too publicly into a well of sobs. Her first born, now in college 3 hours away from home.

***

Corina Morello has no such parental attention. Her parents are working and she caught the train, then the bus, lugging her semester's belongings behind her like a reluctant doll, in a battered wheelie case. She's nervous and tentative. The first in her family to attend college. Her homely looks stand out like a shag on a rock among the almost Kardashian glamour of her counterparts. She fumbles for her registration and the address of her dorm. Drags the suitcase up the steps and is greeted frostily by her sorority housekeeper.

"You must be Corina. Your room's right at the top. The Attic room on the left. Here's your key."

No hello, no welcome, no assistance as she drags her meagre belongings up the aged wooden stairs, unlocks the door and is surprised to see the room already occupied by one, as she faces the blonde from Hell.

"Hi, I'm Corina" Her brave face soon melting into insecurity.

Cecile LeNevez barely lifts her head and issues a haughty, "Whatever...." before returning to her iPhone where she's clearly immersed in a message of great importance. "Not there!" The blonde waves the new girl towards a bed in the corner of the room; again without making eye contact. A bed hidden in the sloped nook of a cape cod roof. Dark, away from the rest. "That's yours." She returns to her iPhone conversation as Corina begins to unpack whilst holding back the tears of loneliness. Already she doesn't want to be here.

***

It was a natural progression towards friendship. Accidentally sitting next to him in Statistics 101. Two lonely souls who didn't know anyone but longed to be accepted. Seb introduces himself and Corina  shakes his hand.

"What are you doing?" she asks.

"No idea" he responds. The truth of it whacking him hard on the side of the head, "I just got good scores and a parental fund so here I am. Being the first in a long line of nobody's trying to be a somebody. Fulfilling expectations."

"Same," is all she says. It was a match. Misfits, yet bound by a feeling of isolation and unbelonging. How they both wanted to belong, and soon.

The two keep company at lunch and sit next to each other in several classes but make an effort to 'belong' by joining in various clubs and sports teams. Both wanting acceptance on a campus where appearance and family background appear to matter more than scholastic achievement. Both swallow their pride to become part of the pack.

***

It's four weeks before the strange couple are accepted in their various peer groups. Even then the association is tenuous and attributed to their 'ability' to perform some needed task, rather than their scintillating personalities.

Corina, still a little dowdy in her less-than-fashionable clothes, but the body beneath recognised by her room mates as potential cheer leading material. Helped in no small way by an aptitude for gymnastics and an ability to contort. Lessons she'd learned as a child from her Yoga teaching cousin. Lessons that led to her being asked to pledge. There was always room for an athlete who was prepared to be thrown or fall from the top of a human pyramid. A desire for acceptance even with these bitches enables her to  agree to become part of Sigma Mu. One of the more athletic sororities on campus.

Seb, still a little nerdy but excelling at wrestling. His mother would have had a conniption had she seen the bruises on his arms and the grazes on his knees, sustained from being dragged across the canvas. She'd be even more horrified to see his opponent's split lips and eyebrows but at least this pursuit had him being noticed by the fraternity chiefs. Caning David Wiltshire clinched the deal, and he was asked to pledge. His Fraternity brother's recognising his potential value to the team, despite his social ineptitude. After seeing Corina's acceptance to swallow her pride in order to belong, he too shook the hand that would inaugurate him and began his three weeks of humiliation before the final Hell Week pledge

"Seb are we doing the right thing? These girls were total bitches when I first arrived. Now I know they only want me because I can perform in their stupid Cheerleading routines."

Corina's only half sincere. A life of loneliness, not fitting in, being a stranger in a distant and unfamiliar place, made her crave the company of others even if they weren't her type. She loved their look, their clothes. The way they hugged each other when they met. The harem of pretty girls with sashaying hips, admired by other boys. The parties she could hear downstairs. She wants more than anything to be part of a life so alien, so different, so filled with popularity and fun. She wants Jake Freeman to notice her. She knows with a little sorority sister help, she can knock the socks off that slut LeNevez. She knows she can steal her football star boyfriend away with a glance, a flash of cleavage, a seductive slice of leg; if only she can reinvent herself. When he walks past, she catches her breath. Her heart quickens, her juices flow. Her skin crawls and she becomes a quivering mess. Just to have him notice her would be a start.

"Corina, I feel the same but I like wrestling. I'm good at it and they seem to want me in the fold so why not? What'll it cost? A few weeks of walking around like an idiot.  A couple of harmless challenges and we're in. Friends for life. Or at least while we're here at college. I'm going for it."

Sebastian too hides his cautious fears. Will they find a place for  him on the team? Will he be teased, humiliated. He wants to be accepted. He wants to go home for Thanksgiving, a hero, a complete man, accepted and comfortable in his surroundings. He wants to assuage his mother's anxiousness by regaling stories of acceptance. He wants that pin on his lapel and a bunch of mates to wolf-whistle with. He wants one of those cheerleaders. Particularly the beautiful Cindy Cowan. Every time he sees her walk into the cafeteria she's flanked by admirers, cool and reserved but with a confidence that makes her shine. He hears music that isn't there, and feels the breeze brush through her blonde hair. He imagines her naked, firm, nubile and receptive. His imaginings get away from him so quickly he's often missed class choosing to remain seated rather than expose the erection he's developed obeying his fantasies. Yep, he'll pledge. Maybe then she'll look twice.

Hell Rush (Part 1 of 4)

"Do you have to go?" He's not the sharpest tool in the shed but his childhood friend is all grown up and ready for college.

"Yeh, mum and dad have been saving for this for years. I'm the first to go, the first in my entire family. That's a big deal to them you know."

"You'll write, Skype....email?"

"Sure. I don't want to lose touch eh? You owe me a favour remember, I might need to call you on it one of these days."

They hug as the stationmaster blows his whistle, a quaint tradition in this age of electronic messages and announcements.

"You getting on young lady?"

The tears begin to well as she hugs him hard and fast. They've never been romantically involved. He's a 'bad boy' been in trouble with the law, in and out of juvie all his young life. A misfit, he never belonged to anyone other than her. But they're close and he embraces her like he'll never let her go.

"Mikey I have to go...." she pulls away, her hand sliding down his outstretched arms and drags her belongings onto the train. "I'll be in touch..." she blows a kiss but he's already turned away. Too macho to let her see the look of love lost, upon his face.

***

Wrapped in plastic takes on new meaning. And duct tape....well there's plenty of that. The 'sex toys', kind of a surprise.

Oh he's seen it before but usually it's a prank, a haze, a kid struggling in a ditch with duct tape and embarrassment. Wriggling like a worm on the end of a hook.  But this time, it's different. They're all naked. They're all bound. They're all dead.

Det. Alex Ringwold has been in the force long enough to see enough. Too long. Things rarely surprise him but this? Five Sorority queens, wrapped in plastic, gaffered to the max, breasts exposed, buttocks bruised, mouths hands and legs bound, each with a dildo barely protruding from their bloodied vaginas. And five young men. Each facing their Sorority sisters in a grisly embrace. Wrapped in plastic. Taped with silver gaffer tape from mouth to groin. Nylon rope beneath the knees to their ankles. Each with a sharpie protruding from their anuses. All lined up like ducks in a row. A quasi-erotic death dance where nobody moves. Hog-tied and arranged carefully on the canvas of the college wrestling ring. And just a day before they're due to travel home for Thanksgiving. days before Thanksgiving.

"Sick fucks. Jesus Mitch, what the fuck do you think happened here?"

His offsider, Mitchell Ryan is a rookie to homicide, and busy throwing up in a waste paper bin.

Unfazed by his new partner's dilemma Alex prattles on unaffected.

"Looks like hazing gone horribly wrong!" The only problem being, Hell Week and the Rush are long over, it's well into the varsity year.

The veteran knows it's a hazing prank but not an accident. This is a deliberate act. Bodies positioned carefully, the symmetry of their abuse evident. The timing of their demise synchronised. The placing of the corpses designed with precision. This isn't just a homicide, this is a message. This is planned retribution on a grand scale.

An embarrassed and revolted caretaker turns on the lights. The soft yellow glow of nightlights flash into the blue tungsten that reveals the heinous demise of ten students.

"Christ, when I went to college I had to skull a yard glass of slops, or do the elephant walk. This is over the top. Bit extreme don't you think sir?" Mitch is still wiping the bile from his mouth and becoming mesmerised with the precision of the arrangement of cadavers within his sights.

"Freshmen?" Ringwold looks at the caretaker.

"No...third years," the ghoulish man in grey overalls reveals.

"You know them?"

"Seen 'em around. They're the king pins of the most popular Fraternity and Sorority houses here. They're couples. Boyfriend and girlfriend. That there's Jake Freeman and Cecile LeNevez." A bony hand points shakily to the first couple in their mortal embrace. "And that's Cindy Cowan and her boyfriend Tim Bilberry. Good wrestler he was, and she was on the Cheerleading team."

He points to each proffering their names and describing their varsity success in terms of sports achievement, cheerleading bullying of new recruits. None by their academic achievement. All by their apparent popularity and ability to control their peers.

"Alright boys, bag 'em and tag 'em" We'll come back tomorrow and begin the interviews.

Continued in Part 2

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Satellite of Lust

She sees it all, that satellite of love, as she waxes and wanes across  the globe. The over consumption, the affluence, the conflict and  starvation. The migration of leviathans and the melting of ice caps. Sometimes what she sees, no other does. Both moonlight serenade and the lunatics below. For the second time this month, a child's screams are numbed by a monster of myth brought forth beneath her pool of light to fulfil its lust for flesh.

I felt different from the moment of first memory. I was aware of my sexuality the minute I held that comforter blanket between my legs. Must have been four or five, behind a couch. Barely over sucking my thumb, yet enjoying the lascivious pressure of softness, arousal and completion; primal but natural. Guilt free. Sex was the driver, always the driver. From 12 years of age, I was the wolf in sheep’s clothing. Innocent as a lamb until she shines.

The taste for flesh? That came young as well. A grandfather serving rare steak. A disgust for the overcooked. The curious touch of a bloodied finger to the lips, sucked and sending sensation to the synapses -ambrosia. But blood without substance is hollow. I was a ‘biter’ as a child, I if it drew blood, all the more satisfying. But it's the flavour of the flesh that makes me strong. The sex before, that provides total gratification.

My name is Ciara, I’m 27 years old but I carry ancient genes. Don’t define me by my occupations, they have been a necessity. From meat packer to mortuary assistant, they’ve served my purpose. Sated fleshlust but not entirely. I’ve worked the system. Two months here, three months there. I never linger. It isn’t safe to linger. Someone’s always watching and they are always chasing. Most times I can control it. Most times I can work it to my advantage but, those blue moons, those triumphant twins are my undoing. It’s then I need fresh meat not the tasteless sustenance of a cadaver. The difference between me and legend? I’m willing. Oh so willing. I love the tease, the torture and the tearing in all its carnal delights and disgusting digestion. No self-restraint. No ghoulish remorse. No desire to be confined when she shines her pools of light.

Transformation in these times is subtle. My kind have long divested the telltale coat and morphing on all fours. The feeling? How could you ever understand the sudden rush of corpuscles when that pearlescent satellite of love rises; tingling and erotic? I can hear my pulse, feel rivers coursing through every vein and artery. The tinnitus in my ears so distracting, I almost lose purpose. Note I say almost; I never do. I feel incredible. Skin tightens and crawls. Libido out of control. Senses reach an unbelievable acuity. I hear everything, amplified and without static; thoughts and whispers, conversations across the room. I can smell his cologne, his skin, his sex, before he walks through the door. Incisors extend, irises yellow and pupils distend, and if he’s worthy, there is the occasional howl at the point of attack. The only one who hears it, dispatched before he can raise a frown. They die happy. I feast to heart's content.




***

“Hi!" He introduces himself as I’m leaning on the bar, pretending to enjoy a Bloody Mary.

The days between the wax and wane spent waiting. Tomato juice has colour but no thrill. It’s a normal enough introduction. He’s small-framed but well built and I’m hoping well hung. I like a little fun before  feasting. Despite good looks, he cares little about his appearance. Jeans, T-shirt, hair that looks like he’s had a wrestling match in his sleep. He’s cute. Intriguing. Pale and interesting as he sidles next to me and perches on a bar stool. His scent is strong.

“…and you are?”

“Ciara… you planning on buying me a drink?"

I rather like the look of him. I mean I really like the look of him. Men have been, shall we say, ‘problematic’ in the past. A date turns into a kiss, a kiss into a fondle, a fondle into a fuck and once I’ve fucked them...well, the appetite rules. Regular preying mantis I am. I stare into his sweet brown eyes and he submits.


“Sure, what’ll you have?"

I order another Bloody Mary with a double vodka hit. He, a Tom Collins. We chink glasses and drain both in seconds.


The conversation begins with pleasantries but soon, he’s telling me he’s just split with his girlfriend and back on the horse, so to speak. I tell him I’m lousy at long-term relationships, a 'man-eater'. The truth taken with disbelief. Three, four, maybe five more drinks and we’re slurring and giggling. His hand is on my thigh, a familiarity I rarely allow but he has nice hands; soft, soothing. I slightly part my thighs in a sign of acquiescence.  A tantalising peek at what potential lies a their vortex. It’s a moonless night. He’s safe…for now.

“Shall we go? You could come back to mine?"

His invitation accepted. I'm intrigued, I feel myself smiling and giving a sly nod. He takes my hand and we walk beneath a blackened sky.



Shame to ruffle that gorgeous linen but we did, and how. He’s a little on the aggressive side. Thrusts a little too hard and puts his hands a little to forcefully around my neck, which I found strangely arousing. Then I like to bite, but gently this time. The shard of moonlight spilling onto the floor, not enough to spoil the moment. I'll play with this one for a while. He seems to like the game.



***
We meet again. This time under the light of the second moon this month, not just any moon. You’d know it as the blue moon. My time to shine. Did I mention my narcissistic tendencies and an inability to form deep emotional attachment? It's the second moon that makes it exciting. The bloodrush worthwhile and the meal all the tastier.

We picnic in the hills overlooking the glistening lights of the city. The moon only now just peeking above the horizon. It’s quiet. Safe. Well safe for me. Perhaps not so for him. We're in total seclusion shaded by he leaves of gently fluttering oaks. It’s balmy, midsummer, as he slips the strap of my sundress from my shoulder and kisses my left nipple. That's the sensitive one, made more so by the night. I respond by assisting in the removal of his T shirt. I’m a little surprised by the marks on his chest and trace the claw like scars with a finger.

“What happened?"


He looks down, both palms spread across the scars, “Oh... motor bike accident. Does it worry you? I can keep my shirt on.”

No need, as I move my mouth towards his chest, my hands up to his shoulders and he reclines. He runs his fingers through my mass of brown curls, thumbs gently rubbing the tops of my ears as I unzip his jeans and my tongue traces the shape of the scars. I always liked someone touching my ears, a genetic predisposition perhaps. Raw nature takes its course and I can feel my skin crawl, my blood pressure rises, my veins carrying effervescence. His own excitement resulting in a hard-on that needs to be sated before I pounce. Lips move south, mouth embraces as he moans and the massaging continues. His hips gently rising to my rhythm. Got him…I’m in control. My hands cascade across his chest as he sinks into oblivious lust. I rise forward, breasts moving across his scars, and straddle. He’s off with the fairies, eyes closed, lips apart as tongues connect. Now we’re talking. I’m feeling it too, the lyconthropic transformation begins. Beneath the rhythm of our bodies, hands on skin he barely notices the change under the rising de la lune.

I can feel a tightness in my mouth as I withdraw the kiss. Incisors. Their protrusion through gums sharp, almost painful. He doesn't notice but my eyes are yellowing, pupils lengthening. I lean back, head towards the sky and howl at the moon as our copulation reaches its zenith.


***
Killing my first revolted me; made me vomit until I realized I was bleeding. I could smell the ferrous liquid leaching through the shreds on my shirt, dripping into tiny pools at my feet as the pain brought me to my knees. The reflection of the moon in pools of blood, the last thing I saw before losing consciousness. 

There was no trace, no evidence of the attack other than the gashes on my chest, now bound and stapled as I lie in recovery. I can’t offer them an explanation. A white coat towers over me.

“How are you feeling Marc, is the pain manageable?"


I nod drowsily as he explains how to use self-administering morphine.

“What happened? These look like animal wounds?" He's inquisitive but I'm in no mood to explain the inexplicable.

I pull the ‘I don’t remember’ card. Like the victim of an auto accident, able to black out the trauma. He thinks I’ve been messing with PCP and did it to myself.


That was the last time I let my guard down. The scars a constant reminder to be vigilant. To pay attention. To develop split second timing. To kill or be killed.

My name is Marcus Younis. By day, I'm an accountant. Complete with three piece suit and a pocketful of pens. My career does not define me. I have a mission. Like my father before me, his father before him, we are Enforcers. We've known about them ad-infinitum. But now they're slick, in our midst, crafty and less obvious than in times past.


The lunatics have left the asylum Ever wondered about high crime rates during the full moon? Put two moons in a month and we're drowning in lunacy. Over the past few months, three bodies torn, tortured, mutilated. All left with a smile on their faces. Whatever happened before their demise was definitely enjoyed the point of ecstasy outweighing the agony of having their entrails gorged.

I remember the brutal shooting of my neighbour's dogs as a child. Their limp and bloodied carcasses laid prone on the nature strip. I was horrified and asked one of the Police why the dogs had taken a bullet.


"Killing cows up the back," he'd said without compassion,  "Son... you didn't see what they did to that cow. Disembowelled. Not like cats who go for the jugular, or latch tight onto nostrils to numb their victim. These three just attacked from behind. The poor thing was alive while they ate its intestines."

I never looked at dogs the same way after. Recent murders in which I'd taken an interest looked like the work of dogs. Big dogs. Sharp teeth. Powerful jaws. Crushed bone and careful removal of the fleshiest parts. Same intestinal pattern. These attackers liked the soft bits. And jewellery. I still ‘finger’ the earring found at one of the sites, kept as a talisman, in my pocket.

Call it a sixth sense. Call it intuition. Call it a terrible gift. It is my purpose. To seek them out and eradicate. Killing them isn’t difficult. Getting there before they kill me is the trick. Don’t believe what you watch on the silver screen or read between the printed page. Tales of self-restraint  and misappropriated love - post violence guilt of the lupine. They feel none of it. They are remorseless, gorging devils and it is my destiny to see them perish.


***
She was not an obvious target. I’d been following her for months across country, from job to job but she hadn’t taken a ‘live’ victim in all that time. She’d been slippery. But oh so beautiful. Lithe as a cat (and that irony does not escape me). Masses of dark brown hair cascading over well-formed shoulders. A disarming smile and the face of an angel. I’ve never pursued one so immaculate, so perfect. Often there are tell-tale signs; each eye a different colour, eyebrows meeting in the middle, incisors retreated but obvious. No such signs with her. She is a show-stopper. Time slows when she walks into a room. She’s graceful, mindful, alert and noticeable. I’m intrigued and attracted. Maintaining focus is difficult. Until I hear about the child.  Attacked by a placid family dog (or so it was reported). Disembowelled before parents were alerted. But I bore witness to the carnage, arriving too late to prevent the brutality. Too late to make amends. She smeared blood and entrails from her mouth before I could draw my weapon, then disappeared into the trees. The velocity of her departure barely visible to the human eye. Her bloodlust sated, she was energised and revived. Instead, I threw up yet again, resolved that it is time. Time to engage, attract, eliminate.

It takes a moment if you’re quick. A syringe, a sliver of silver, direct hit to an artery. Undetectable, untraceable. Nowhere near as obvious as a sniper’s weapon or a swordsman’s blade. Poisoning doesn't work. Only silver does, in all its incarnations. The devil is in the detail; getting close, really close is the trick.

I’ve let my guard down this month. Delaying the inevitable. We’ve reached those heady peaks a few times now. She’s incredible and I’ve delayed action in the interest of lust. She presents no threat until the second moon of the month. Her body warm, soft, pulsating. Her mouth generous in its giving. Yes we've had our lascivious fun but the time's drawing close to end it all.

This time, is different. This time will be deadly. Despite my fear I let her go down on me, paying close attention to the movement of her mouth, her tongue. I let her ride me. She thinks I’m at the vinegar stroke, oblivious, unaware of her intention. She thinks I’m vulnerable. But I’m prepared, alert, in control. Sure my heart’s racing. Fear is a great leveler and the fear courses as my pulse pounds, Blood rushes to vital organs and my fingertips upon her breasts feel cold. She is oblivious in her lust and transformation. She doesn’t see my hand slide beneath the picnic rug, the weapon already charged and drawn. Her head's thrown back, gazing upon the moon, She's focusing on her own agenda. I have to keep my thoughts to myself, keep my mind blank. Her incisors are visible, the colour of her eyes is changing; pupils lengthening. She’s sweating. Her neck exposed she howls with the sweet combination of climax and morphology as I plunge the syringe into her jugular and discharge its narcoleptic draught.

I’m pierced by her gaze as she’s pierced by the poison of a thousand tiny silver flakes. Her look incredulous, my fear palpable as she collapses. I disengage, arms pulling me from beneath her, scrambling backwards with speed, widening the gap between once entwined bodies. She writhes and gnashes in front of me. Her screams unearthly. The body so often close to mine now disintegrating with speed into a fetid pool,  as she dissolves and howls for the last time.

She sees it all that satellite of lust. As she waxes and wanes across the globe to become another moon so blue. Silent witness to the carnage caused by monsters of myth, the slayers and enforcers - ever vigilant beneath her tranquil pools of light.

Published for the Tenth Daughter of Memory "Beneath the Pools of Another Moon"